Stored 25 Years: 1956 Clipper Super Panama

The saga that was the Packard Motor Car Company was in full soap opera mode in the mid-1950s not long before they called it quits altogether. This 1956 Clipper Super Panama wasn’t badged as a Packard as Clipper was a separate make within Packard starting in 1956. This barn find can be found here on eBay in Kennewick, Washington with a buy it now price of $5,000 or you can make an offer.

The big wheels at Packard, or by that time, Packard-Studebaker, thought that the Clipper line was bringing down the brand’s image so for 1956, they spun off the Clipper line into its own brand.

This car is a big project, literally. You can see that it’ll need a lot of work, from stem to stern. In a car with a nautical theme that’s not as weird as you may think. The Clipper, even though it may have been Packard’s less-luxurious brand, sure had a lot of great details like the big clipper ship wheels inside and out.

The seller says that this car is complete and it rolls but isn’t running at this time. One reason is that there are no keys, but that’s probably not the only reason. The interior looks great, design-wise, but not great condition-wise. This jewel in the rough was maintained until 25 years ago when it went into storage.

The engine is Packard’s 352 cubic-inch V8 which would have had around 240 hp. The restoration bill on this Clipper will no doubt surpass its value in no time but it would be nice if it could be saved. Any thoughts on this ’56 Clipper?


  1. JBP

    title, or not, that car Need everything, but nice Body style..pressure cleaned inside and out, such u dont doo ist easy to see they heve washt seats dash and what more??
    i would love to fix this up again, but 5000, or offer, max 2000 in my world..

    Like 4
    • Brakeservo

      Seller’s description is optimistic at best. If actually stored, then why was pressure washing needed?

      Like 1
  2. Sal

    Its hard to see here… But I have always been shocked that the tri-5’s got all of the glory and these beautiful cars were (and still are) so unloved.

    Like 14

    One thing you never see are manual transmissions on these later 55/56 Packards. About 20 years ago I had a 55 Clipper sedan with a manual on the column. The car was found in a barn by the previous owner and he properly woke it up making it into a driver. It was rusty (not as bad as the above) but not a worthy of a full restore. It sure was fun as is and that Packard V8 was ultra smooth. They have a very distinctive sound.

    Always had my eye out for another late manual Packard but obviously hard to find. Lots of 55/56 Packards around in this non running rough condition still around though. Don’t see a lot of hope here.

    Like 1
  4. Little_Cars

    Shoot, I never realized the rear treatment on these 56’s carried over the angular and quite dashing design from the front hooded headlights, etc. Also didn’t realize the parts bin for those taillights and bumpers was raided to build the Packardbakers that came down the line a year or two later. Lots of customizers cannibalized these cars for the taillights and they would be seen on a lot of lead sleds in the early 60s.

    Like 5
    • TimM

      The front looks like the shoe box fords of the era and the back resembles a 57 Chevy!! Great looking car!!! Is it an easy car to get parts for or would you have to change the drive line???? How about body parts too!! Is there any company that fabricates panels for this????

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Actually It’s very easy to find ALL the mechanical parts you would need, but body parts are getting a bit hard to find. That said, these don’t typically have severe rust issues, and a good metal man can make the needed patches to weld in.

  5. Gaspumpchas

    You would need to do a complete thorough insp of this baby but for being a Northwestern car, it might not be as rotten as it looks, Has a face only a momma could love! Hope someone saves it- 5 k might be a stretch. good luck to the new owner!

    Like 1
  6. Arby

    Looks like it’s from Panama – the Canal…

    Like 2
  7. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I do not think I have ever seen one in person. Must have been a beauty when new! I really like the dash ships wheel! I just looked on ebay for one. 75 bucks. Its not coming here!

    Like 2
  8. charlie Member

    When I was in 8th grade the mother of the girl I was in love with had a ’51 with manual shift. She drove us a lot of places. I knew enough about cars then to ask why she almost never used 2nd gear. First to third, third to first. She said it was just to far for her to reach, and she was not a small woman. And the Packard had plenty of power so first and third overlapped quite well. The car was silent, and vibration free when idling.

    Like 2
  9. bigdoc

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these beautiful cars on the road and they were awesome. Quiet with just a little purr and the ride was great.

    Like 1
  10. Ikey Heyman

    I see a lot of 50’s Packards for sale and the prices seem very reasonable for a luxury class auto. Maybe prices are depressed because people are reluctant to buy them, afraid they can’t find parts. This one is too much $ for the condition.

  11. moosie moosie

    When I was a kid growing up in The Bronx & these cars were new or nearly new, we would be playing stick-ball and when your team came to bat we would sit on the fender or 1/4 panels of what ever was close by. One guy who lived in the neighborhood had a Packard similar looking to this one, his was Green and White in the same pattern as this one. I remember when we sat on the fender or 1/4 panel we would hear something click on and the car would raise up until we got off and then go back down, the owner had a street facing apartment cause every now and then he’d yell down on us to get off of his effin Packard. I remember that car being really nice with a Green & White matching interior.

    Like 1
    • Robert L Roberge

      A neighbor of ours had a ’55 Clipper and we kids would do the same to his ’til the battery was low.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        This is why Packard had a switch to the left of the steering wheel, to turn the torsion-bar leveling system off.

        Like 1
  12. Ikey Heyman

    Here is an example of a 1955 Packard 400, a 2 door hardtop “senior model” in the lineup. It needs some work but runs & drives and has a bunch of new parts. At $7500 OBO, it’s a much better starting point for a Packard project:

    Like 1
  13. Andrew Franks

    I agree with Ikey. Unless i had a real thing for this car and intended it as a buy and hold (forever) I don’t know that I could justify the investment which looks to me like North of $75,000.00

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    Yeah, you’d have to have some connection to a car like this, as a restoration, you’d be under water in no time, if you could even find NOS stuff. But it is a very significant car, one year only, and the last of the Mohicans, and I won’t even consider the ’57-’58 as the last Packards, even though they were. This car should have saved Packard, but it wasn’t enough. I think a strike created long delays when ordered, and poor build quality, not to mention the turmoil above, was the end of one of the greatest car makers of all time, and it ended here. To me, that would be reason enough to restore this.

    Like 3
  15. bog

    I sort of agree with “Little_Cars” and “Tim M”, re: styling. But I’ll offer this, having lived through the 50’s and onward, the front looks more Dodge/Plymouth/DeSoto-ish than either Ford or Chevy of same year. Rear treatment far superior than any of the others in my humble opinion. Which is why those tail lights and bumpers appeared on so many customs of the day. My murky memory even is telling me a plum/eggplant colored Mercury with chopped top had them. I owned a ’57 Merc with basically the same exterior and interior color combo, and though I loved mine (push button trans), mine had a 312 and this baby has a 352. Yikes ! (was purchased for 5K according to ebay)

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